Big inning carries BC Cyclones to 14U White Firecracker title

By DN WRITING STAFF | July 2, 2024

By Sean Reilly

The BC Cyclones Off-White 14U were a happy group on Monday evening, and deservedly so. 

The Cyclones came from their Little Ferry base to compete at Diamond Nation over the weekend in the 14U Firecracker White Division tournament. 

Winning any event at the Flemington facility is a challenging assignment. Accomplishing the feat after losing your first game of pool play makes the task that much tougher. 

But the Cyclones made it happen, after a 10-5 triumph over the Connecticut Gators 14U in the final. 

The Cyclones began the tournament with a 5-2 loss to RPP Revolution 14U on Saturday morning. That made the three remaining pool contests must-win games. One triumph on Saturday, followed by a two-game sweep on Sunday, resulted in a first-place finish. Its semifinal on Monday afternoon was a 5-4 triumph over the OC Smash. 

That victory put the Cyclones on equal footing with the Gators in the final, and an eight-run third inning broke a scoreless tie and propelled the team to the title. 

Sebastian Fernandez was 2-for-4 with one RBI in the final, and 7-for-15 with six RBI overall to earn tournament MVP honors. He singled in the winning run with two out in the bottom of the fifth and final inning of the semifinal win over the Smash.

“It was fun, but it was really hard,” he said. “We had to win every game and there was a lot of pressure.” 

In the championship, the Cyclones hit into infield double plays in both the first and second innings. 

The top of the third inning was much different, as 14 Cyclones came to the plate during an eight-run outburst.

Sebastian Fernandez of the BC Cyclones Off-White was named the 14U White Firecracker MVP.

Lucas Suarez led off with a bunt single along the third base line. He stole second, and, after a strikeout, he scored when Ethan Yan hit a single that deflected off the glove of the third baseman who was lunging toward the shortstop side. The ball went toward center field, allowing Suarez to score. 

Singles by Harry Vazquez III and Jonathan Vazquez loaded the bases for Jeremy Irizarry, who hit a one-run single to right field. 

Anthony Marrano was the up next, and despite being the catcher and biggest player on the field, he showed extreme hustle on a ball hit to center for a three-run triple and 5-0 lead. Fernandez was up next, and he also tripled to center to score Marrano. 

Aquiles Hache hit a single to left field to score Fernandez. There were runners on second and third with two out when the eighth run scored on a wild pitch. 

Two more runs came in the fourth inning, which began with Irizarry reaching on a hit-by-pitch and Marrano following with a walk. After a fly out, Irizarry stole third and scored when the throw went into left field. 

Hache was hit by a pitch, and a wild pitch sent Marrano to third. 

Marrano then pulled off an alert hustle play when the catcher, pitcher and first baseman converged on a foul pop hit by Suarez. The catcher caught the ball, but Marrano recognized that no one was covering the plate, so he tagged up and scored for a 10-0 lead.

The game could have ended via the 10-run mercy rule in the bottom of the fourth, but the Gators instead scored four times to remain alive. 

Aiden Ramos led off with a triple and scored on a double by Carter Blake. Walks to Evan Wyda and Eliot Atlee loaded the bases before Ayden Troyer hit a sacrifice fly compounded by an error to score an additional run. Jake Lebov added a sacrifice fly later in the inning. 

The Gators loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the fifth and got an RBI walk from Atlee to close within 10-5. 

The Cyclones then made a pitching change to Max Balseca, and he promptly induced a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. 

The 1:50 game clock reached zero in the top of the sixth. The Cyclones couldn’t add to their lead, but Balseca struck out the side in the bottom of the inning to end the game. 

“We were hyped and excited to be in the championship,” Fernandez said. “For most of us, it was our first time winning here. We hit into those double plays early on, and then we got hits. That big inning showed a lot, and that we can always come back.”

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